In any business relationship or purchase you make, it is natural to want to save money whenever and however possible. Except in certain situations, quality legal representation is not cheap. And if you do not have much experience with the legal system, some of the charges may alarm you.
If you discussed the basis and nature of legal fees and costs with your lawyer and have a written fee agreement, you have taken the necessary first step to help you control your legal expenses. Still, you can do a few things during your case to help you and your lawyer manage overall fees and costs.
- Get organized: Bring as much information as you can and share it with your lawyer during your initial consultation. Think about the case in advance before talking to a lawyer. Write down the questions that you want your lawyer to answer.
- Be thorough: Tell your lawyer all the facts. Do not assume that your lawyer knows them all. The attorney-client privilege means your lawyer will keep all the information that you tell them confidential. This could help cut down the time that the lawyer will spend investigating the case and gathering information. To represent you efficiently, it will help your lawyer to know as much as possible about your case and to avoid surprises during the course of representation.
- Be efficient: Try to be as concise as possible. In many circumstances, you will pay for every minute you spend with your lawyer, including on the phone. A friendly relationship can facilitate the handling of your case, but you should try to limit your discussions to your legal matter. You will not want to pay for a long, friendly conversation about non-legal matters.
- Communicate: You need to discuss the case with your lawyer and prepare for meetings. You are probably the primary source of information about your case. If something new happens, you should inform your lawyer. It may change what the lawyer is doing on the case and save you and the lawyer time (and thus money).
- Examine your bill: Make sure that your bills do not contain costs or expenses beyond those you agreed to pay. Even if you agreed to pay on a contingency basis, you should check to see that the lawyer appropriately billed for costs and expenses.
A Note About Settling
While you should always choose in your best interest, you should also know that settling a civil case faster or agreeing to a plea bargain if you are facing a criminal charge will also likely save you money.
If you are worried about the time it takes to resolve a case and what it is costing you, you should always bring these concerns to your attorney. They will be able to help you think through your options and what resolving a case quicker will mean for you, beyond what it will cost. It may be better to spend more to protect your rights and interests in some cases.